Borrowing your friend’s car? Here’s everything you should know first

There are several reasons why you might need to borrow someone else’s car. Perhaps yours is getting repaired in the garage, or maybe you’ve just not bought one yet. Though it might feel like a bit of a novelty, you could face some serious consequences if you borrow a car incorrectly. No matter the reason, it’s important to be aware of the legalities involved.

Why might you need to borrow someone else’s car?

In some circumstances, borrowing someone else’s car is the most convenient and sensible option. In emergency situations or if the driver themselves needs picking up, it’s almost a no-brainer. There might also be periods in which you can’t use your own car, but you still need to get around.

There are a few things to consider before you hit the roads. The first is asking for permission, and the next most important is getting covered. It’s never worth risking the consequences of driving without insurance.

Before you borrow a car: Key considerations

  • Insurance

By UK law, you need to be insured on any vehicle you drive. If you have a comprehensive insurance policy for your own car, it’s worth checking your documents. Some policies provide you with third-party cover when you drive other vehicles with the owner’s permission.

If you’re found to be at fault after an accident, third-party cover won’t cover damage to the vehicle you’re driving or your own injuries. Getting comprehensive cover can also feel too labour-intensive, but there are some viable alternatives.

Flexible options could be more suitable. For example, taking out day insurance on the vehicle means you can drive it in as little as an hour on the same day, and you should also avoid paying for unnecessarily long and high premiums.

  • Fuel

In the UK, wholesale fuel costs are falling yet drivers are still paying high prices for petrol and diesel. With constant price hikes, it’s good courtesy to ensure that you refuel the borrowed car before returning it, preferably to a full tank – or above the level at which you received it.

If you’re not close with whoever lent you the car, we’d recommend writing out an agreement with their expectations on how you should return the car. This could simplify the process and avoid any harsh feelings after you return it. 

  • Gearbox and transmission

If you’re used to driving a manual vehicle, you’ll be in for an even smoother ride if the car that you’re borrowing has an automatic gearbox. It might take a few minutes to get used to driving around without a clutch, but you’ll soon appreciate the convenience of not needing to change gear. It’s worth bearing in mind that you can’t just get in a manual car and drive it if you hold only an automatic licence. You’ll need to take a manual driving test to upgrade your licence.

  • Driving the car

Lastly, being comfortable in the car doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll enjoy driving it. Likewise, even if the interior looks completely different to the one in your car, you’ll probably need to get used to how it feels quite quickly.

If you’re feeling nervous or apprehensive about driving your friend’s car, it could be worth going for a quick taster drive before you hit the roads on your own. That way, they can help to guide you through everything you should know about how the car feels – along with any ‘quirks’ it might have. With permission from the car’s owner and a little bit of technical know-how, you should be ready to go. Just make sure you’re driving with the correct licence type and comprehensive insurance too.

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